New York City has ramped up its efforts to get migrants out of the city as its shelter system has reached its maximum capacity, overflowing at hotels.
The city is setting up an office to provide asylum-seekers with free, one-way plane tickets to take them anywhere else in the world.
New York City Hall confirmed the establishment of a new “reticketing center” in Manhattan as its latest bid to ease pressure on its shelters and finances following the arrival of more than 130,000 migrants since last year.
The city has stressed that the offer for travel is voluntary.
“With no sign of a decompression strategy in the near future, we have established a reticketing center for migrants,” a spokesperson for Democratic Mayor Eric Adams told The New York Post. “Here, the city will redouble efforts to purchase tickets for migrants to help them take the next steps in their journeys, and it helps us triage operations at The Roosevelt for new arrivals.”
The outlet noted the cost of buying a plane ticket is in some cases cheaper than the $380 the city pays per day to house a migrant in one of its shelters.
Some of the migrants who have accepted the city’s offer have booked tickets as far away as Columbia and Morocco, according to Politico.
Adams has described the situation the city is facing as a crisis. He warned that shelters are full and other migrants could soon be forced into the street as winter approaches.
“I cannot say this enough. You know, we are out of the room,” he told reporters this week. “And it’s not ‘if’ people will be sleeping on the streets, it’s when. We are at full capacity.”
The mayor’s office recently limited the stays of adult migrants in city shelters to 30 days. Migrant families with children can stay for 60 days. Many of the migrants have arrived in the city without the legal ability to work. They can reapply for housing if they cannot find a place to live.
A spokeswoman for Adams said about 20,000 people have received either 30- or 60-day notices. Less than 20% of people who have exceeded the limits are still in city shelters, she said.
Adams is also seeking to suspend a unique legal agreement that requires New York City to provide emergency housing to homeless people. No other major U.S. city has such a requirement, and the mayor’s office has argued in court that the mandate was never meant to apply to an influx of migrants. A judge this month directed the city to enter mediation discussions with homeless advocacy groups to find a solution.
The mayor’s office said it has rushed to set up more than 200 emergency shelters to house migrants, including renting space in hotels and erecting large-scale facilities. More than 65,000 migrants are already in city shelters.
New York City has even rented closed-down hotels to house migrants for the next three years at the astonishing cost of more than $1 billion, according to The New York Post.
The outlet reported the projected $1.365 billion price tag is nearly five times what an original deal called for. That staggering amount of money would just pay the rental fees to more than 100 hotels converted into emergency migrant shelters. The total doesn’t include the additional cost of using city facilities and other rented sites to house the thousands of migrants who keep coming to New York City every week.
At a Manhattan community meeting in September, Adams said 110,000 asylum-seekers have come to the city since April of last year, contributing to a $12 billion budget deficit.
“And let me tell you something, New Yorkers: never in my life have I had a problem that I did not see an ending to. I don’t see an ending to this. I don’t see an ending to this. This issue will destroy New York City. Destroy New York City,” he said.